This week I had the opportunity to sample some of the restaurants participating in Aberdeen Restaurant Week 2018 Part 2. With over 40 restaurants, £10 lunches and £20 three course dinners, you need to get involved. Luckily, myself and the other ARW Bloggers are reviewing all the menus to make your choice easier from the 3rd to the 9th September.
On Monday evening, I sampled the menu for the week at Howies. I had only dined at Howies once before, for the Christmas set menu, and I remember being very impressed so I was excited to try it again. Howies has been around since 1990, always serving Scotland's best produce whilst incorporating it into their modern and sophisticated meals. I love to see somewhere passionate about using our amazing Scottish larder and in such a good way.
You'll find Howies in a perfect central Aberdeen location on Chapel Street, opposite the Holiday Inn Express. Great for visiting one of Aberdeen's many bars afterwards. There are also three other Howies restaurants, in Edinburgh.
One of the best things about Howies is the rustic decor. Candlelit tables, Scottish-themed props and artwork, a large piano and wood-barrel-pannelled-bar makes for an extremely inviting setting. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the restaurant busy on a Monday evening. With it's warm, cosy atmosphere and sophisticated Scottish food, it is perfect for a date night or for someone visiting from outwith Scotland looking to try local food.
The menu consists of three starters, three mains and three desserts to choose from. The choices are good; although I found it a little disappointing to see the menu doesn't really cater to vegetarians. I quite often opt for the veggie option too. It's a shame as there are some great vegetarian dishes on their main menu.
Dinner during Aberdeen Restaurant Week involves a three course meal for £20 at all restaurants. It's such a great excuse to try out some of Aberdeen's local food.
For starters, we had the Ham Hock served with Piccalilli and Soda Bread and the Cullen Skink. Cullen Skink is one of our go-to's whilst dining out and we also make a pretty good one, so standards are high. Howie's version exceeded expectations. The soup was thick, creamy and delicious. Served with tasty rosemary focaccia, it was a perfect starter.
The Ham Hock was equally as delicious. The bread was the best part- a cute miniature soda loaf. It consisted of pulled, salty ham which you pile on the warm, freshly cooked bread before topping with homemade piccalilli. The only minor criticism is I would have liked more of the piccalilli.
For mains, we firstly had the Chargrilled Chicken Breast with White Bean, Chorizo, Tomato and Spinach Cassoulet. Probably the least Scottish item on the menu, it had Mediterranean vibes with the chorizo and bean stew. The chicken itself was cooked perfectly and was juicy. The sauce was also full of flavour. I just wish the portion of chicken had been bigger.
For the other main, we went for Crisped Pork Shoulder and Black Pudding with Spring Cabbage, Apple Sauce and Sautéed Potatoes. I was initially so impressed with the look of this dish. I love when something inspires me to recreate it and this did just that. It was something I had never seen before. The pulled pork style shoulder was mixed with delicious black pudding before being covered in breadcrumbs and crisped up. Amazing! Unfortunately the sauce lacked flavour a little and I did need to add quite a bit of salt- although I loved the apple puree. The potatoes and cabbage were also a little uninspiring. However, I would still order this dish again purely for the pork and black pudding patty. It was incredible!
We just about had room to try out the dessert offering. We are so glad we did. The desserts were delicious and ended up being the best part of the meal. We ordered the Raspberry and Drambuie Cheesecake and the Bannoffe Pie.
The Cheesecake had the smoothest texture, almost like a panna cotta. It was served with fresh raspberries and raspberry coulis. I couldn't detect any drambuie in the cheesecake, but I didn't miss it.
We also ordered the Bannoffee Pie which had the perfect mix of caramel, cream, banana and biscuit base. It was perfect!
We really enjoyed our meal at Howies and we were also very happy with the service. There was a slight misunderstanding as the menus had not been printed, but this was quickly rectified and we were also given our drinks on the house. These extra touches made us feel very welcome and did not go unnoticed. They are very much ready to welcome you during Aberdeen Restaurant Week so be sure to make a reservation if you like the menu!